Despite the institution of a new policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem and imposing fines for any that don’t, no New York Jets players will be paying any fines. Team chairman Christopher Johnson, who is acting as the owner while his brother, Woody Johnson, serves as the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, told Newsday on Wednesday that the team will cover any fines incurred by Jets players for violating the anthem policy.
“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said, per Newsday. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest.
“There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”
Johnson also released an additional statement via the team’s official Twitter account, in which he reiterated the team’s commitment to “strengthening our communities” and stated the team will “work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us.”
Johnson previously spoke out against the possibility of adopting any kind of policy requiring players to stand for the anthem.
“I know there’s some discussion of keeping players off the field until after the anthem. I think that’s a particularly bad idea,” he said in March. “I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea.”
Regarding the current policy, Johnson said that it is less onerous than the one that was originally proposed last week, and he voted in favor of it out of allegiance to his membership duties as the chairman of the franchise. His stance does not seem entirely consistent with commissioner Roger Goodell’s insistence that there was unanimous support for the anthem policy, which was already undercut by 49ers owner Jed York’s assertion that he abstained from voting due to the lack of input from players, who are unhappy with the policy as well.
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